“That’s all right then. Do you know you’re very like Count Tolstoi?”
“I haf been told so, but I do not know him. What is it you would like, if you please to tell me?”
“I want a sitting-room and a bedroom for a month or so, perhaps more,—not at an hotel. I want to be quiet and all to myself.”
“Ah—you don’ want an hotel. You want to be quiet,” and he nodded understandingly. “But the hotels is quiet joost now—”
“I’d sooner have rooms in a cottage if I can get them.”
Count Tolstoi turned to the fisherman to whom he had been speaking, and discussed the matter at length with him in the patois.
Then, to Graeme, “If you please to go with him. His wife has roomss to let. You will be quite comfortable there.”
Graeme thanked him, and as soon as he had settled satisfactorily with his boatmen, his new keeper picked up both his bags, and led him along a stony way past the post-office, to a creeper-covered cottage, which turned a cold shoulder to the road and looked coyly into a little courtyard paved with cobble-stones and secluded from the outer world by a granite wall three feet high.
And as they went, the young man asked his silent guide somewhat doubtfully, “And do you speak English?”
“Oh yes. We all speak English,” he said, with a quiet smile, “except a few of the older folks, maybe, and they mostly understand it though they’re slow to talk.”
“And your name?”
“John Carre,”—which he pronounced Caury.
“Now that’s very odd,” laughed Graeme, and stood to enjoy it. “My name is Corrie too, and John Corrie at that.”
“So!” said the other quietly, with a glance from under his brows which might mean surprise or only gentle doubt as to the stranger’s veracity. And, so odd was the coincidence, that the newcomer saw no necessity to spoil it by telling him that his forebears had left him also the family name of Graeme.
A large brown dog, smooth of hair and of a fine and thoughtful countenance, got up from the doorstep and gave them courteous greeting, and a small, white, rough-coated terrier hurried out of the kitchen and twisted himself into kinks of delight at sound of their voices. And that decided it before ever Graeme looked at the rooms. For if there was one thing he liked when he wanted to be alone, it was the friendly companionship of a couple of cheerful dogs.
And that is how he came,—without any special intent that way, but through, as one might say, a purely accidental combination of circumstances—to be living in that cottage in the Rue Lucas in the little isle of Sark, and under a name that was indeed his own but not the whole of his own. And herein the future was looking after itself and preparing the way for that which was to be.
The cottage was apparently empty. His guide and namesake looked into the kitchen, and called up a stair which led out of it, but got no answer.